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The Thing: Again

Mark Corroto By

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Wait for it. Wait. At some point during a performance or recording by the trio known as The Thing, the band attempts to rip your face off, beginning with your ears. It's been that way since they were founded in 2000. The Swedish/Norwegian free jazz/garage band have become a kind of jazz/punk royalty, cutting huge swaths into jazz conventions without ignoring jazz traditions. Yeah, their apparent contradictory nature is part of the attraction.

Again is their 20th release, and it follows a 2015 recording with James Blood Ulmer, Baby Talk (Live At Molde International Jazz Festival 2015) (The Thing Records, 2017). The trio of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love balances straight trio outings with collaborations with Neneh Cherry, Thurston Moore, Barry Guy, Jim O'Rourke, Ken Vandermark, and Otomo Yoshihide. That tradition began with one of their first recordings, She Knows... (Crazy Wisdom, 2001) with guest Joe McPhee. McPhee is back for one track here, Frank Lowe's "Decision In Paradise." Like the original 1984 recording with Don Cherry, McPhee plays pocket trumpet. They maintain the bluesy nature of the composition, but also disassemble the melody only to rebuild it with a muscular robustness.

Of the remaining two tracks, "Sur Face" was penned by Gustafsson and "Vicky Di" by Håker Flaten. The saxophonist's lengthy piece, a twenty-one-plus minutes, fluctuates between a barroom clearing attack and pacific passages. The trio chart a course through quiet/loud and loud/quiet, moving from energy jazz to heavy rock and back. Håker Flaten's "Vicky Di" has the bassist switching to electric to match the force of Nilssen-Love's skins and Gustafsson's tenor. This allows him to switch his guitar to thrash and, as the MC5 say, "kick out the jams motherf#ckers."

Track Listing: Sur Face; Decision In Paradise; Vicky Di.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophones; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: acoustic bass, electric bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion; Joe McPhee: pocket trumpet (trk #2).

Title: Again | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Trost Records

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